2023 Kentucky Derby Future Wager #3: A Deeper Look

The third 2023 Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool opens on Friday, January 20th at Noon Eastern. With this year’s pools being expanded to 38 individual interests, in addition to a vast and sensible group of “all others” involved, there are plenty of opportunities to find value in a very wide open crop of sophomores.

Trainer Brad Cox holds an incredible eleven individual runners in this pool, with the eight representatives from Pool #2 all still present plus three additions. There are five trainees from the Todd Pletcher barn, with presumptive juvenile champion Forte leading the way along with four last out maiden winners.

Forte closed as the Pool #2 favorite at 10-1 over Extra Anejo (13-1), a flip from Pool #1 where Extra Anejo closed as the 12-1 choice over Forte (16-1). Those two are the top choices on the morning line for Pool #3, although Extra Anejo is joined by Corona Bolt and Loggins as the co-individual second choices.

I’ll break this deep dive into six groups, listing top career Beyers for all 38 individual interests within these brackets. We’ll also take a look at the key contenders that would fall under “all others”, including the current Bob Baffert trainees who in all likelihood will have to switch barns to make the Derby. After these lists, I’ll throw out my opinions on most of the contenders and see if they’re viable in this pool. Let’s dive into it.

Weekend Runners

  • 94 – Echo Again (08/20, MSW at Saratoga)
  • 90 – Banishing (12/26, MSW at Fair Grounds)
  • 85 – Instant Coffee (09/03, MSW at Saratoga)
  • 83 – Confidence Game (10/26, Allowance at Churchill Downs)
  • 79 – Two Phil’s (10/30, Street Sense S. at Churchill Downs)
  • 74 – Tapit’s Conquest (09/03, MSW at Saratoga)
  • 73 – Tapit Shoes (12/03, MSW at Fair Grounds)

This group of horses will be the easiest to read since we’ll get a good glimpse of where they’re at in Louisiana on Saturday. Banishing (40/1 KYDFW morning line), Tapit Shoes (50/1), and Tapit’s Conquest (99/1) are all set for an allowance race on the undercard, while the remaining three will go in the G3 Lecomte S.. Whoever performs well from these races are likely to be hammered come Sunday and will likely have a little value sucked from them. Personally, I’m the most high on Two Phil’s (80/1) off his strong victory in the G3 Street Sense S., even though the figures didn’t post the best returns.

Top Contenders

  • 100 – Forte (11/04, Breeders Cup Juvenile at Keeneland)
  • 97 – Corona Bolt (12/26, Sugar Bowl S. at Fair Grounds)
  • 91 – Victory Formation (01/01, Smarty Jones S. at Oaklawn Park)
  • 90 – Dubyuhnell (12/03, Remsen S. at Aqueduct) 
  • 88 – Practical Move (12/17, Los Alamitos Futurity at Los Alamitos)
  • 86 – Curly Jack (08/14, Ellis Park Juvenile at Ellis Park)

To be honest, top contenders is a bit of a stretch with this bunch. This is comprised of the winners of the most recognizable stakes races run so far who have also been given clear future targets on the Derby trail. Forte (10/1 KYDFW ML favorite) is a clear standout and I would expect him to train on well at three. Corona Bolt (20/1) turned in a huge figure when winning the Sugar Bowl S. last out, but he’s yet to try two turns. I personally didn’t expect him to be this low on the morning line, which tells me there’s good word out on this runner. I am very high on Victory Formation (30/1) off his Smarty Jones S. win, his two turn debut, and think any price around his morning line is playable in this pool.

Recent Stakes Performers

For a group of recent stakes performers, I don’t see much coming down the Derby trail with these six colts. Giant Mischief (40/1) had a bit of trouble in the Springboard Mile and still threw an impressive 91 Beyer, but the quality of competition is definitely suspect. Additionally, his best career figure came in a Keeneland allowance, yet the horses he beat there have floundered in outings since. Jace’s Road (40/1) tripped out when being put on the lead for the first time in the Gun Runner S., but he beat some decent runners in there and isn’t outrageous at the price. Although Arctic Arrogance (50/1) did regress in the Jerome S., his Remsen performance was strong and he’s more of a two turn horse. A horse I wouldn’t consider as a win play that could make sense in exactas. Recruiter (99/1) is a big wild card from the Mid-Atlantic but hasn’t turned a hair wrong in his 4-for-4 career. I do question his ability to stretch out to two turns eventually.

Recent Allowance Performers

  • 97 – Verifying (01/14, Allowance at Oaklawn Park)
  • 90 – Cyclone Mischief (01/08, Allowance at Gulfstream Park)
  • 88 – Gun Pilot (01/14, Allowance at Oaklawn Park)
  • 82 – Hit Show (12/17, Allowance at Oaklawn Park)
  • 82 – Rocket Can (10/26, Allowance at Churchill Downs)
  • 80 – Prairie Hawk (01/13, Allowance at Tampa Bay Downs)
  • 80 – Litigate (01/08, Allowance at Gulfstream Park)

A lot of quality could emerge from this group of seven sophomores over the next month. Verifying (40/1) lifted from a background role in his barn to a leading man when winning at Oaklawn last out, and the numbers back that up. His pedigree suggested the more time he was given the better he would be. and he backed that up big time. I view him as a real threat going forward on the Derby trail. He beat Gun Pilot (80/1) that day, a colt who I thought held his own in both his first two turn outing and first time against winners. He might be a cut below and isn’t a play in this pool but is one I’d watch moving forward. Cyclone Mischief (40/1) took an excellent step forward when winning that Gulfstream allowance, featuring a field that easily could’ve emulated an early points paying Derby prep. He showed he could rate for the first time that day and handled the salty bunch with ease. Dale Romans knows how to get a horse to the Derby and he’s on the right path with this pricey son of Into Mischief. The rest haven’t been strong enough for me to consider in this go around, but I will keep them in mind in future Derby preps.

Recent Maiden Winners

The potential with this quintet is evident, however I heavily dissent on the abilities of the bunch from what the figures may say. Kingsbarns (80/1) maiden win last weekend was sharp enough to be featured as an individual interest, where he had to bully through a tough trip to break his maiden. He did it over a mile and will easily stretch out in the future. Shopper’s Revenge (80/1) really stepped it up second time out last weekend, dominating a group of maidens in his two turn debut. Prior to that, he had a less-than-ideal trip on debut and still rallied for second. A son of a Breeders’ Cup Distaff winner and by Tapit, he easily projects as a Triple Crown contender. Sun Thunder (99/1) was third behind Shoppers’ Revenge in their first starts and then came back to win over a mile at Oaklawn. Another one with a stellar Classic distance pedigree and looks like the type to keep improving for Ken McPeek.

Horses We’re Waiting On

  • 97 – Extra Anejo (10/13, MSW at Keeneland)
  • 94 – Wildatlanticstorm (12/17, Springboard Mile at Remington Park)
  • 93 – Blazing Sevens (11/04, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland)
  • 91 – Gulfport (07/04, Bashford Manor S. at Churchill Downs)
  • 91 – Loggins (10/08, Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland)
  • 86 – Disarm (08/06, MSW at Saratoga)
  • 73 – Signator (10/14, MSW at Belmont at the Big A)

There is so much talent amongst these contenders, but whether they’ll get the chance to have an impact on the Derby trail remains to be seen. The biggest of these is Loggins (20/1), who in my eyes is the best colt in this crop. However, news broke it is unlikely we’ll see him even return to training in the next month, heavily casting doubt that he can make a Derby prep. There’s more promise for Extra Anejo (20/1), who reportedly has gotten back on the track in recent days. If Steve Asmussen can get him back into shape quick enough, he’ll be good for a couple Derby preps. Additionally, I feel this will be the best value you will get on him in any of the Derby future pools, past or future. Blazing Sevens (40/1) really intrigues me as a Classic distance horse and feel he’ll get better as he gets older, but he’s yet to work back from his 4th in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. For more on Wildatlanticstorm (50/1), who turned heads with his 94 Beyer from the Springboard Mile, go check him out in the Derby Contender Tracker.

All Others

  • Bafferts: (Cave Rock – 104, 10/08), (Hejazi – 100, 09/10), (Arabian Knight – 97, 11/04), (National Treasure – 97, 10/08), (Reincarnate – 95, 01/08), (Newgate – 95, 01/08), (Faustin – 89, 12/26)
  • 84 – Post Time (10/27, Allowance at Laurel Park)
  • 83 – Determinedly (10/26, MSW at Churchill Downs)
  • 81 – Raise Cain (12/26, Gun Runner S. at Churchill Downs)
  • 81 – Hoosier Philly (10/26, Golden Rod S. at Churchill Downs)
  • 80 – Mr. Ripple (01/08, Allowance at Gulfstream Park)
  • 76 – Cuvier (01/14, MSW at Gulfstream Park)

At first glance, the “all others” options would seem a tougher play than in recent years due to the increase of individual interests. However, with Bob Baffert trainees being ineligible to play individually due to his exclusion from this year’s Kentucky Derby, all others remains in play. Names like Cave Rock, Arabian Knightand Faustin stand out most to me from this barn. Outside of Baffert trained horses who will, in all likelihood, switch barns come March or April, the majority of my top three year olds are individual interests in this pool. Determinedly has been one of the most battle tested horses of this crop and I can see him bounce back from his Gun Runner S. third. Mr. Ripple wasn’t fully cranked when beaten by Cyclone Mischiefand I think this colt can take a step forward in his next start this year. Finally, Hoosier Philly seems like the only reasonable option for “All Other Three Year Old Fillies” and might be worth taking a look at if the 30/1 morning line for that option holds true.

My Top Three Looks

Of the individual colts in this third pool, Victory Formation (30/1) would be my top play. His Smarty Jones S. win stands out to me and it feels like he can only get better as the year goes on. Verifying (40/1) would be my second look. He is likely to provide excellent value and the more I look at his last win, the better I feel about his progression from two to three. Finally, Forte (10/1) may not be the sexiest option, but if he’s as good as he was as a juvenile there’s no reason to think he can’t play on the Derby trail. Plus, whatever odds he closes at in this pool will be better than what his Derby day odds would be should he prep well. *One other horse I’m interested in is Two Phil’s (80/1), but I will have to see how he runs on Saturday.*

My Top Three Fades

Despite him being the best three year old in my eyes, the recent developments on Loggins (20/1) lack of progression towards getting back on the track makes him a fade. Tapit Trice (30/1) doesn’t appeal to me if he does close around his morning line. Personally, I feel like we’ve seen many more impressive colts than him in other maiden and allowance races. Jace’s Road (40/1) didn’t blow me away with his Gun Runner S. win, I thought he got the run of the race and wasn’t overly impressive in starts prior. All in all, I’d be hard pressed to say he’s even top five in talent amongst his stablemates.

The third pool will close on Sunday, January 23rd at 6 PM Eastern. Free Brisnet PPs for Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #3 can be found here. If you’re looking for more in-depth information on each contender listed, make sure to check out In The Money’s Kentucky Derby Contender TrackerFor prep race recaps, don’t forget to save or bookmark our dedicated Kentucky Derby Trail page.

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